The Uncharted: Legacy Of Thieves Collection represents the best version of both the games it comprises. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy were the series’ two final outings on the PlayStation 4. These games brought series hero Nathan Drake’s story to an end and introduced longtime series nemeses Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross as playable characters.
Uncharted 4 gives Nathan Drake a spectacular send-off. Each level is a series of carefully and elaborately constructed amusement park thrill rides, designed to give our hero as much room for heroism as for self-aware quips and banter. Uncharted 4 is a precision instrument, built to be effortlessly playable and draw the player in. The move to the PS5, with its smooth frame rates, additional detail, and clever controller, only makes it more so.
The decision to spin Chloe and Nadine off into their own adventure for Uncharted: The Lost Legacy proved a smart one. Not only does The Lost Legacy stand on its own as a great chapter in the Uncharted series, but it also provided a convenient testbed for the larger, interconnected environments Naughty Dog would use in The Last of Us Part II. We actually had a whole piece go up this morning on why The Lost Legacy is the package’s better game, and you can read it here.
What struck me about this package was how beautifully it runs on the PlayStation 5 hardware. Naughty Dog has become the master of Sony’s once-challenging hardware and now know how to squeeze every last drop of performance from each console. It takes a pair of games released in the middle of the last hardware generation and makes them look dazzling. Both games were able to run at 30FPS in 1080p and 4K on the PS4 hardware. On the PS5, these games can now run at 4K, 1440p, or 1080p resolution. 4K is still locked to 30FPS, but both Performance and Performance+ modes open the frame rate up to 60 FPS and 120 FPS on TV’s and monitors that can support such. It must be noted that these games don’t support dynamic resolution scaling, so these configurations are what they are.
Playing through the early sections of Uncharted 4 over the weekend, it struck me how the higher res and solid frame rates allow the game’s performances to breathe on-screen. The familiar, beloved sequence involving Drake and Elena at home, having dinner and playing Crash Bandicoot, takes on a new significance. It’s not that you couldn’t observe the nuances of both Nolan North and Emily Rose’s performances on the PS4, it’s that they leap off the screen now. Every ounce of their chemistry, every muscle twitch, every uncertain half smile draws the eye. Indeed, it gives further credit to Naughty Dog’s artists, the calibre of its motion capture, and the incredible rigging of the game’s models that the game can communicate these unspoken thoughts and stifled emotions in giant neon letters.
When I watched the Digital Foundry review on YouTube over the weekend, DF’s John Linneman described these remasters as like having access to a master recording of a favourite song. That as apt a description as any I can think of. These remasters are as close to perfect as it is possible for these games to be. They are the best versions of both games ever released.
You could fairly ask who it is these games for. If you’ve owned a PlayStation 4, and chances are you did, you’ve probably played at least one of these games. If you’re excited to go back to them, great, you’ll have a wonderful time. I just have a hard time imagining there’s that many players excited to jump into them on the PS5 for the first time. Maybe its for those who missed Uncharted: The Lost Legacy the first time around. In that instance, I welcome those wayward players in with open arms.
The other downside to this package is that there’s an extra cost involved, even for those who’ve already purchased both games. PS4 players who’ve purchased either game digitally can get an upgrade to the Legacy of Thieves Collection for A$15. If you bought disc versions of either game, you won’t have access to that upgrade path. Additionally, players that grabbed Uncharted 4 when it went free on PlayStation Plus are locked out of the upgrade path too. Those without an upgrade path will have to shell out $A74.95 for a retail copy.
Obviously, this issue isn’t the end of the world. Tangled rules around which version you own will always create frustration. This will happen again with Horizon Forbidden West when it launches PS4 and PS5 versions a few weeks from now. This seems like a problem Sony could solve with the stroke of a pen. It isn’t that PlayStation needs to get its house in order here, it’s that there’s one room in an otherwise very clean house that’s a bit messy.
As a whole, Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection is another lovingly crafted salute to a pair of games that defined the PS4’s lifecycle. It’s great to have them on the PS5 and it’s great to have them preserved in this kind of quality. Both are vital, exciting titles in the stories PlayStation library, even in this new generation. Chances are you’ve played them before, but it’s been a while since they came out. If you’re thinking it’s time to give these games another run, this package is the perfect way to relive them.
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves is out now for PlayStation 5.